Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – A Big Fine House

My life in appalachia - Fine Houses

“He lives in a big fine house up in that new development” is a sentence you might have heard in our county over the last 15-20  years. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with living in a big fine house-sometimes I wish I lived in one. But it is something I’ve pondered on.

A conversation I happen to hear the other day got me to thinking about it again, the difference in people’s houses and what it takes to make someone happy. For some folks its a house with to many rooms to keep clean for others like the person who lives in the house above its a pot of beans on the stove and enough firewood busted to make it through the winter. I wish I could say I was like the latter, but truthfully I guess I’m somewhere in between.


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.


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  • Reply
    Barbara Gandy
    October 30, 2019 at 7:10 pm

    Oh , y’all make me so homesick for a place I’ve never been, the mountains. But I grew up in a simple four room house with no running water or electricity and never missed it. There was nine of us kids and Mama and Daddy. We didn’t have anything so there was plenty room. Mama cooked on herHome Comfort wood stove all year and I’ve gotten up at night and broke the ice in the water bucket to get a drink of water. The only thing I regret is how hard it had to be on my Mama. For me simple is best, but I don’t miss going “out-doors” when it’s freezing and pulling down my britches one bit.!!

  • Reply
    September 16, 2017 at 9:20 am

    i’m sitting here in comfort in my cousin’s big fine house, where i’ve been safe for a week while waiting for power to return to my old house in tampa. the chairs here plug in, and have usb ports in the arms! i wanna go home! if this hurricane hasn’t been a kick in the rear to finally get up and fix up my old house, nothing will!

  • Reply
    September 7, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    I’m right there with ya, Tipper. A little more than enough, but not too much. That about sizes it up for me.

  • Reply
    rhonda jacobs
    September 6, 2011 at 8:15 am

    I’ll take this house any old day! Lotta living going on there,you can tell…..if it could only talk!

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    September 3, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    I think I’m in the middle, too. The siding on that old house reminds me of Grandma’s house. It looks like the fake brick siding.

  • Reply
    Brenda Kay Ledford
    September 2, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    This old house could tell many stories if it could talk. I love old houses. They are historical. This old house may be humble, but I’m sure it was well loved by the owners.

  • Reply
    Mary Rutherford
    September 1, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    One thing for sure…be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home. Ours is surely humble. It started untold years ago as a two room farm tenant shack and earned a few additions that stitched it together like a crazy quilt. A game of marbles in the house would never be successful because they would all roll off. In spite of it’s “charm” the only thing I wish for is a studio space. Of course a new roof would be nice too.

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    September 1, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    Jim Casada rocks! I also loved his guest column in “The Smoky Mountain News”. I guess I should add the disclaimer that I make my living cleaning some of these fine big houses, but I just don’t understand all this excess. I don’t need 2 or 3 big fine houses-I’ll take my cozy log cabin in the woods any day!

  • Reply
    September 1, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    What some who live in what I call McMansions nowadays often don’t seem to know is – a house doesn’t make a home; love makes a home no matter where one lives.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    B f
    September 1, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    the old house brings back memories , it is similiar to what we lived in , but we owned it , small as it was and without any of the essentials that people have now we loved each other and our neighbors and my, my the old time revivals where we walked with our friends and carried a lantern or if we were extra lucky and had batteries for our flaslight (if we had one) we had all the good food one had in those days
    we didnt have much in the way of material things but thank God we had enough and thats all one can ask for in this world

  • Reply
    September 1, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Tipper, thank you for stopping by and commenting on my Hero post. One really can not do better than the wonderful comments already made. We always wanted a bigger, better home, but in the end after the Hero died, I was glad I was still on the farm close to nature. Big is pretty but with it comes so many challenges of up keep, and fees, etc. Guess I just like livin’.

  • Reply
    September 1, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    I have to, regretfully, admit that I’ve never lived in Appalachia, but my Dad’s family did. Finding this site has been such a blessing for me. I sit here and read your blog and the comments…with the music turned up high and feel I’ve come home. No idea why this music has always called to me, but you do fill a portion of my soul each day when I check in. God bless you and your wonderful family.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    September 1, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    I’m with Jim this time, except I don’t think there is room for both of on the same soap box.

  • Reply
    September 1, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    I had the same thoughts as those of Sheryl; I bet that big, fine house isn’t paid for, a lot of the rooms are not used, and one day the resisdents will be too old to climb the stairs. Our house was probably considered a big fine house when it was built in the 60s but now, not so much. I’m just thankful for it!

  • Reply
    September 1, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Enjoyed everyone’s comments.
    The saying “fine house” made me think of the Crosby, Stills and Nash song, “Our house, is a very, very fine house.”

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    September 1, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    Very similar to the house I grew up in. We thought any house with plumbing was a “big fine house”.

  • Reply
    September 1, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    I use to wish for a big fine house
    for my girls growing up and lots
    of elbow room. The house never did
    happen, but we got the view of a
    dreamer. Now the girls bring their
    daughters and show them what it
    feel like to wade in a cold
    mountain stream, swing on a grape-
    vine, enjoy a real strawberry,
    or hear a pheasant beating on a
    log in the spring. I learned that
    the value of a big fine house was
    not the important thing. All I
    had to do was just open my eyes
    (as Dolly Parton sings) to God’s
    Coloring Book…Ken

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    September 1, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    I love to see big beautiful houses and think of the many gifted people like architects, stone masons, etc. that brought them into being. I also, however, love ordinary houses like the one I live in. The houses that I love the very most are the ones you stumble upon when hiking. Those are the ones that no one actually lives in but when I see them my imagination goes into overdrive. I can see, in my mind, the family that once lived there. I see them working, playing, living their lives in the mountains.

  • Reply
    teresa atkinson
    September 1, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Focusing on simplicity in September at my place. May I grab this picture – Of course I will will give you full credit…..

  • Reply
    Wanda in NoAla
    September 1, 2011 at 10:22 am

    I remember when having enough wood for the winter stockpiled was a status symbol. Nothing says home more than supper cooking on a cold night.

  • Reply
    Bob Aufdemberge
    September 1, 2011 at 10:04 am

    On the “home” vs. “house” issue, out here on the edge of the plains about the only people who say “home”, meaning the building, are real estate salespeople. Evidently they are taught that it makes a better sales pitch that way.

  • Reply
    Mary Jane
    September 1, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Sue Crane’s post reminded me of something I hadn’t thought of in years. My parents built a brick house in the late fifties…their dream house…nice, but modest. I learned years later that a boy I went to school with had been urged by his Daddy to ask me out. We were classmates, but he was very shy, never opening his mouth to anybody much. They were a big, poor family, and I guess he thought we had a lot more, because he told his Daddy, “Why, Daddy, a boy that lives in a wood house can’t ask a girl who lives in a brick house out!” Funny thing, I was dating and later married a boy from a much larger, poorer family! People get funny ideas, sometimes.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    September 1, 2011 at 9:22 am

    when I was growing up a big fine house was often used and it was a badge of success to have a brick or rock house. This past July when we attended a family reunion my husband and I drove around and I pointed out the many brick and rock houses and told him that story.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    September 1, 2011 at 9:20 am

    PS…. a pot of beans and greens cooking and the aroma of cornbread coming from the oven sure adds to the pleasure of home!…ha

  • Reply
    September 1, 2011 at 9:16 am

    Your title intrigued me today, as it often does: “A Big Fine House”, or, “home” is a term I’ve heard all my life from my mother’s family (AL/TN), but rarely from any others.This phrase always conjures up a picture of the finest living around, or a since of contentment; of having everything all set – or not.
    In fact, I would feel complete if I could have a mountain house with a commanding view, but I wouldn’t want to offend folks like Ken, so I’ll give it more thought.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    September 1, 2011 at 9:09 am

    I wonder if the descriptive words “big fine house” are strictly from Western NC?
    I have heard relatives say them to describe someones new or upgraded house many, many times…Rather than say “they have moved to a new home, large or larger home, nicer house or bigger house” for instance. It was always “Big Fine House”…ha…To me it almost sounded like a jealous slur..and thru habit I may have said the same myownself…ha
    Like you I am somewhere in the middle..I’ll take a few necessary comforts, (especially indoor plumbing and running water), a good cook stove (with the pot of beans) that doesn’t heat up the kitchen and electric lights, even though I love the smell of camping lanterns! ha
    I try to always remember, it’s not the fabricated house that makes you happy it’s the loving home that makes you happy!..
    Thanks Tipper

  • Reply
    September 1, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Reminds me of this song:

    • Reply
      Stephen MALDONADO
      July 5, 2021 at 9:38 pm

      I will treasure this narrative as a comparable and appealing somewhat comparison to my Hispanic upbringing. I am deeply touched.

  • Reply
    September 1, 2011 at 9:06 am

    Well, it depends on the range of the scale. I’m not sure where my home falls but I know that I am blessed beyond belief.
    I see the real big, fancy homes and think they’re pretty or gaudy. I don’t seem to want for one, I’m very satisfied with what I have. My first home was quite small, so if I compare, the home I have now is quite big.
    It fits our 3 grown kids, new grand baby, large dog, chubby cat, hubby & I quite well. Although the kids don’t live here now, when family or friends come to visit there’s plenty of room, but we always seem to hang out in two rooms, kitchen & family room.
    Right now my inlaws are here and we’re having a grand time! 🙂
    Have a very nice day Tipper!

  • Reply
    Eva M. Wike, Ph.D.
    September 1, 2011 at 8:51 am

    Tipper: Yesterday at ‘the county club’ a waiter shared the fact that he and his wife are living in the old house that BOTH her grandfathers built and her father kept it ‘nice’ all through the years. Now the waiter gets to tend the many gardens which ‘the lady of the house’ planted and cared for until her death last year!
    You would not believe the passion and devotion with which he spoke of the love he holds for these grounds! He drew me a map of how to find the house/yard! I can’t wait to explore an ‘old place’ which is held in such high regard!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    September 1, 2011 at 8:27 am

    Tipper–I would disagree with you in part. There is something wrong with a big house in a new development if it is a high-ridgeline house. Our forebears had better sense than to build on ridgelines and the side of mountains steep as a horse’s face. They build down in the hollers, secure from winter winds. But these here flatland furriners think they’ve got to get high so they’ve got a view. Somehow it never occurs to them that while they are getting a view they are spoiling one for everyone else.
    Ken will recognize my irritation on this matter, because one time when I was over at his shop I mentioned something about some fool building a house up on top of Granny Squirrel where it stuck out like a sore thumb. He just shook his head in dismay.
    In my view, I don’t want a view spoiled, and to see for a long ways you don’t need a house high on a mountain–you just need to take shank’s mare to the top of the mountain.
    Now–I feel better with that out of my system, but steep slope construction just frosts my grits.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    September 1, 2011 at 8:23 am

    this photo brings back more fond memories of KY, there were more like this one that the big fine houses. when we visited to eat after church, i loved going to the houses much more than the big fine houses. a coal miner that was a deacon in my dad’s church lived in a house just like this one, perched on the side of the mountain with 6 kids in it

  • Reply
    September 1, 2011 at 7:54 am

    That picture brought back some memories. Granny’s house, where ‘running water’ was run in in a bucket from the pump off the back porch, the wood stove heated up a summer day to get the canning done and reading was by a coal oil lamp at night.
    The house is gone, now an empty place next to my house, which is a few steps up on the scale though far from fancy.
    I appreciate my conveniences, but if I had to, I could live that way again, I think…

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    September 1, 2011 at 7:49 am

    Yes, I’m a little in between too. When I start wanting I remind myself that they probably have a big mortgage, higher utility bills, spend more time cleaning. That gets me out of the wishful mood every time!

  • Reply
    September 1, 2011 at 7:32 am

    Tipper I think I’m with you; I’m somewhere in the middle. Never have wanted a big, fancy house. I’m quite happy with what I do have! I’ve always thought I’d like to have a little cabin in the mountains some day!!!!

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